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Wednesday, November 09, 2011

Federal Vision and Its Use of the Objective (A Road to Rome)

It would seem that Federal Vision has a view of common operations of the Spirit that allows for the non-elect to experience existential union with Christ, which in turn leaves no place to ground assurance of salvation in the experience of the elect who are converted. There becomes no place to ground assurance for the converted if any person with the Spirit can fall away from the faith.

If one can have assurance of final salvation, then those texts pertaining to common operations of the Spirit must imply something less than what FV suggests. If one can know that he will make it to glory in the end, then the assuring witness of the Holy Spirit must not accompany those sorts of operations of the Spirit in the non-elect. Will FV proponents at least agree on that? Will they affirm that the Spirit does not confirm present salvation in those not elected to final salvation since the divine granted assurance of final adoption is predicated upon assurance of present salvation? If so, then what work of the Spirit do they (the FV) suppose is lacking in those of whom such texts speak? Do they have union, just not assurance of union?!

I find it most curious why FV has gotten themselves into this obvious bind. What I think FV might have done in part is taken the objective criteria that the church must employ to regard one as God’s child and has collapsed it into the individual’s criteria to judge himself whether he is truly in Christ, leaving the individual needing more for assurance – God’s internal witness of adoption granted by the Spirit to the individual, which FV cannot affirm as something to look to given their view of Spirit-wrought union that can be supposedly received by the non-elect.

Sadly, the truly converted under FV standards is left with zero assurance of salvation (not unlike Rome's doctrine of assurance) because (i) those with the Spirit may fall away and (ii) the objective standard the church must work with to judge one’s salvation status is not enough for someone to gain personal assurance of actual salvation, for the church is to regard closet case unbelievers as saved as long as (for instance) they have received Christian baptism and if old enough have improved upon it with a credible testimony, {which of course may not be denied (i.e. found incongruous) by personal doctrine or lifestyle}. In other words, people who rightly should be on church roles by sound ecclesiastical standards can prove themselves in time as not being truly of us, but given no clear theological distinction between the visible and the invisible church that is consistent with an internal witness by the Spirit of adoption that only comes to the converted, the implications are (i) some people actually lose their salvation and (ii) nobody can know they will arrive at final salvation, which in turn presents another problem for FV, this time regarding salvation by works, the very thing they would like to on...

It seems to me that FV makes persevering faith a work that distinguishes one man from another – i.e., one will persevere if he keeps himself in the faith. In other words, it seems as though FV allows for elect and non-elect persons to receive the same measure of the Spirit and union, which seems to suggest that what distinguishes one man from another must be man, not God. Again, if both receive the Spirit, then man is deciding factor on final adoption, hence the lack of assurance available to those who are actually decreed to final adoption. Under FV, those decreed to final adoption have no more of Christ than those who are supposedly regenerate but not decreed to final adoption.

At the end of the day, collapsing ecclesiology into soteriology like the FV does is in my opinion no worse than Rome’s error of confounding justification with sanctification.

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